Director Zack Snyder is slated to begin filming Justice League Part One just a couple weeks after his next project, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, hits theaters and – if all goes according to plan – succeeds in firmly planting the flag for the remainder of Warner Bros./DC’s currently planned installments in the DC Extended Universe. Batman V Superman leads Henry Cavill (Superman), Ben Affleck (Batman), and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) will be returning in Justice League, of course, while actors Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ray Fisher (Cyborg), and Ezra Miller (The Flash) will join them as part of the eponymous superhero team – though for now, it looks like a Green Lantern won’t be among their ranks (not yet, anyway).
Meanwhile, on the non-superhero side of the DCEU, it’s not altogether clear yet whether Man of Steel and/or Batman V Superman players like Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth) and Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor) will all be returning for Justice League Part One, though the odds are in favor of that happening… or, at least, most of them should be back. However, we can now add another important name to the list of key regular human characters who will have been established as part of the DCEU by the time the first Justice League movie is done: Commissioner James Gordon, who will be played by the onetime J. Jonah Jameson actor himself, J.K. Simmons.
THR is reporting that Simmons will play Gotham City Police Commissioner Gordon in Justice League Part One, with filming on the movie currently scheduled to get fully underway next month (April 2016, at the time of writing this), in order to make the November 2017 theatrical release date that’s been set for the film. Many know Simmons best for his performance as the Daily Bugle’s comically angry Editor-in-Chief from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movie trilogy (a role that he has reprised in animated form for such Marvel cartoon series as Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Ultimate Spider-Man), though he’s also well-renowned as a character actor for his dramatic work on such TV shows as Oz and Law & Order, as well as his Oscar-winning turn in the musical drama/psychological thriller Whiplash.
It’s safe to presume that Simmons’ performance as Commissioner Gordon in Justice League Part One will be more in line with his more grounded previous dramatic work, as opposed to his (delightfully) over the top performance as J. Jonah Jameson. Some might recall that at one point it was rumored that Batman V Superman was going to reveal that Gordon had died prior to the events in that film, so that’s one longtime rumor surrounding Sndyer’s upcoming Man of Steel sequel that it seems we can now safely put to rest – seeing as it’s highly unlikely that Simmons would sign on to play Gordon in, say, flash-backs in Justice League Part One or whatnot. It’s certainly possible that Gordon was already dead in an earlier screenplay draft for Batman V Superman all the same, given that the film’s script clearly underwent significant revisions throughout its development – including, after Oscar-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio (who is also penning both Justice League films) joined the film’s production team.
Justice League Part One will focus first and foremost on the formation of the Justice League and the super-powered threat that brings its members together (a threat that might well turn out to be Darkseid, as has long been rumored). Nonetheless, the idea of the DCEU being a world that is otherwise “normal” save for the existence of superheroes – as established by Man of Steel – highlights the importance of including non-superpowered individuals in all upcoming DC comic book film adaptations. That is certainly true for someone like James Gordon, as the character’s relationship with Batman has long provided storytellers (working in various mediums) with a means for digging deeper into the Caped Crusader’s murky moral code and crime-fighting approach. Much like Superman’s scenes with Lois Lane and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) in Man of Steel and, most likely, Batman V Superman are also used for key moments of character development for the Son of Krypton, the scene(s) with Gordon and Batman in Justice League Part One should help to further develop Affleck’s iteration of the Bat of Gotham.
Not to mention – Simmons joining the DCEU means that both Justice League Part One and the developing Batman solo feature (which Affleck may or may not direct, too) will include at least three Oscar-winners in their casts (Affleck, Simmons, and Irons) – and maybe even four, should Suicide Squad‘s Jared Leto reprise as The Joker in the Batman standalone movie. Not bad at all, that.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, which is followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.